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May 2015 Where in the Park are We?

Posted by | 05.27.2015

By Lisa Duff
Marketing and Membership Director

What I should have done was pace off the length of this gargantuan dinner table to get some idea about exactly how long it is. But I didn’t. It was late fall; I was cold; and the sun was setting fast. On top of all that, I was not entirely sure where I was.

I knew where I wanted to be. I’d set out just after 1 p.m. from Bryson City, after having attended George Ellison’s book signing for Our Southern Highlanders at the new Swain County Visitor Center and GSMA National Park location, which, if you haven’t been there yet, is located in the beautifully restored Swain County Courthouse at the corner of Everett and Main streets.

It was the day after Thanksgiving; the sun was shining down so bright on this little mountain town that its rays seemed to be signing aloud, “Come out and play!” By the time I found some lunch and drove the length of Lakeview Drive, it was nearing 2 p.m., possibly a little late to undertake my intended route, but the sun just kept singing its Sirens’ song, so how could I resist? I jumped out of the car, dashed through the tunnel and set my sights on what I imagined would be a quick loop by way of Whiteoak Branch and Lakeshore Trail and Goldmine Loop and Forney Creek Trail and the Tunnel Bypass and….????

Is your head spinning? Mine was. So many options and so little light left in the sky. What was I thinking? Confusion resulted in a wrong turn, which I remember thinking was no big deal; it’s a loop, after all. I hadn’t left a trail of breadcrumbs on my way out, but I was fairly certain I could find my way back to the car before dark.

Giving up on the idea of completing a loop, I started to plan a route that would give me a few extra miles and hopefully show me something I’d never seen before. I got lucky. Taking yet another “wrong” turn, this one intentionally because I had a feeling, I began a steep, though short, climb that terminated at Woody Cemetery. At the base of this side trail I found this table and imagined it set the day before with a feast, enjoyed by young and old alike. Maybe not with turkey and all the trimmings, but certainly with a community potluck by families of the people resting just up the hill, families who join together a couple times of year and talk about the good, ol’ days.

The many trails found at the end of the “Road to Nowhere” are admittedly confusing, but worth every bit of the effort. So go ahead, get lost; just not too lost.

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